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Let’s talk about unlocking private funds

Updated: May 16

While the greening of Europe’s housing stock is challenging, it can be doubly so in the case of the affordable housing sector, where public finances can be stretched. That’s why Smarter4EU is seeking to collaborate on the role hybrid financing can play to unlock green affordable housing, as Iva Merheim-Eyre (Habitat for Humanity), Smarter4EU Energy poverty lead explains.

Have you ever been camping with a group of friends who are a bit more well off than you are? If you have limited resources, there is no point in bringing a bottle of cheap wine. But you can be the one and only hero who remembered to bring a corkscrew.

The same logic can be applied to the current state of green housing. According to the European Commission, to achieve the EU's 2030 climate and energy targets, public grants are insufficient. It’s estimated that private financing will have to cover up to 90% of the necessary costs. In such a situation, there is an obvious solution: limited public funds should be used wisely and in close collaboration with the private sector to become a catalyst for future private investments. And the need for this kind of innovative collaboration becomes even more pressing when affordable housing is in question.


Discussions about unlocking private funds often focus on tools such as the creation of a supportive network, development of new financial schemes, technical and legal support, guarantees and pilot projects. All of these are absolutely spot on, but I would start this list with this one: “talk to key people first”. Coming back to our camping trip analogy, if you didn’t ask first, you may have brought a corkscrew to a group of beer drinkers. Your proposed solution may be of no use.

That’s why Smarter4EU wants to start a conversation. Our Let’s Build Green and Elevate campaign invites public and private sector representatives to discuss how to blend public and private money in the affordable housing sector. From collection of good practices to free consultancy and roundtable discussions, our team is facilitating contact between people who are ready to talk. So, we’re engaging with a broad range of stakeholders who can help to unlock - or uncork - the sustainable affordable housing that Europe so badly needs for the sake of vulnerable people and an increasingly vulnerable planet alike.

We’re looking to engage with banks, municipalities, green home certifiers and construction materials and technology providers from all over Europe, taking account of how different markets may have different needs. Spain may be vastly different from Ukraine, but many approaches and ideas are transferable. Getting to know your counterparts and learning from regional experiences can unlock enormous benefits for all relevant stakeholders, no matter the characteristics of their housing market.

If you have anything to add to the conversation, join over 250 Let’s Build Green and Elevate pledge signatories and contact us to discuss collaboration.

Cheers to green housing!

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